Resources in chapter Establish Presence and Authority

Tipsheet

Tips for Asserting Presence and Authority

  1. Don’t underestimate the power of “presence.” Having identifiable guardians out on the lands and waters patrolling and monitoring will influence what activity happens in your territory.
  2. People respond well to uniformed guardians that conduct themselves professionally and treat people respectfully.
  3. Seek clarity from your leaders and your community about which rules and regulations related to stewardship are the highest priority for your guardians to help ensure compliance with.  
  4. Inform and educate people about rules and regulations, most often this will lead to voluntary compliance.  People may not know what is expected and will typically respond positively to learning about the rules and regulations.  
  5. Have pamphlets, formal letters, or other printed materials to share with people that provide information about your Indigenous Guardian program and/or important rules and regulations that you are asking people to follow.  
  6. Develop strong and reciprocal relationships with resource agencies who enforce provincial, territorial and federal laws. This will help improve response to infractions or emerging issues that your guardians observe, record and report. See the chapter 'Establish Relationships with Resource Agencies' for further information.
  7. If your community is focused on the revitalization and application of Indigenous laws related to stewardship, make sure that you guardian program is actively involved in these conversations.
  8. Think about the big picture and things you can do to build broader support for stewardship policies and laws that are a priority for your community.
  9. Community leaders can act as powerful influencers when it comes to behavior shifts around rules and regulations. Engage them in supporting education and outreach around compliance issues. See the chapter 'Engage the Community' for more ideas.
  10. Influencing the actions of community members can be challenging.  It can be done by engaging the community early on, building knowledge and trust, developing a sense of shared stewardship responsibility, and having clarity around rules and the implications of breaking the rules.
  11. If your community is interested in Indigenous Guardians playing an enforcement role, be strategic about the enforcement responsibilities your community wants and systematically work towards them. With enforcement comes significant responsibility and requires dedicated resources. Know what you’re committing to.
Worksheet

Overview Worksheet - Establish Presence and Authority

This worksheet provides a series of questions to help think through how your Indigenous Guardian program can play a role in asserting presence and authority on your lands and waters. Download it now

Section: Why have a strong visual presence on the land and waters?

 “It’s about asserting our presence on the land. The general public sees us out there in our uniforms. I can’t overstate the value of that. Now Indigenous and non-Indigenous people come to us to report issues. So does the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.”

Brad Setso, Haida Fisheries Program
Quote

 “It’s about asserting our presence on the land..."

“The Wild Horse Ranger Program played a significant part in strengthening Xeni Gwet’in’s role in asserting control over the territory…The Rangers’ primary strategy was diplomacy.”

David Williams, Friends of Nemiah Valley
Quote

“The Wild Horse Ranger Program played a significant part in strengthening Xeni Gwet’in’s role in asserting control over the territory…"

Section: Why is professional conduct important and what can it look like in practice?

Tipsheet

Tips for Professional Conduct for Guardians

Some strategies to maximize impact and effectiveness of guardian efforts:

  1. Look professional. Wear uniforms and make sure that vehicles or boats that you travel in are marked and identifiable with decals or flags.
  2. Proactively engage with the public. Support your guardians in developing the skills needed to talk with visitors and resource users. Develop a one-minute ‘elevator speech’ about your program and encourage staff to practice it. Be clear about the messages that you want your guardians to communicate. Use every interaction as an opportunity to educate people about your Nation or community, your lands and waters, and the issues that you are most concerned about.
  3. Share and leave behind important information. It’s useful to have a brochure that you can hand to people that provides information about your guardian program. This simple gesture is a good icebreaker and an easy way for guardians to introduce themselves.  It’s also useful to have more detailed information about the important issues you are working on. This could be maps on fishing closures, hunting regulations you are seeking compliance with, or protocols on how you would like people to conduct themselves in certain areas.
  4. Be friendly, approachable and curious. When you work as a guardian, you will likely meet a lot of people. As an ambassador, your job is to be respectful and approachable, and to share relevant information with the people you meet. Share information about who you are and what your role is, ask and answer questions, and collect information from visitors if this is part of your data collection or monitoring work.  
  5. Stay calm in the face of conflict. Although many, if not most, visitors and resource users in your territory will be interested in talking to you and learning more about your program and your community, there may be some exceptions. You will need to be prepared and confident about how to respond to people who aren’t interested in what you’re doing. They might be rude, disrespectful or confrontational. The safety and well-being of guardians working in the field is always a priority. It is extremely important that you stay calm and do your best to de-escalate the conflict. This means speaking clearly and calmly and not being rude back or resorting to violence. If it is not possible to de-escalate the tension, it is best to leave the conversation to avoid conflict and walk away from the situation. Some Indigenous Guardian programs have found it helpful to do training in conflict resolution in the field, ‘such as verbal-judo’ training. Other Indigenous Guardian programs have clear policies about how to address conflict in the field. See the 'Interacting with the General Public - Guardian Protocol' developed by the Taku River Tlingit First Nation.
Tipsheet

Tips for Professional Conduct for Guardians

"We found that when our Guardian Watchmen started wearing uniforms and carrying our CoastTrackers, everyone took us a lot more seriously. We get more respect and responsiveness from the people we approach in the field."

Ernie Tallio, Nuxalk Guardian Watchman Manager
Quote

"We found that when our Guardian Watchmen started wearing uniforms and carrying our CoastTrackers, everyone took us a lot more seriously..."

Community resource

'Interacting with the General Public' Guardian Protocol - Taku River Tlingit First Nation

Community resource

Uniform Policy - Coastal Guardian Watchman Network

The 'Coastal Guardian Watchman Uniform Policy' shared by the Coastal Stewardship Network is provided to member Nations who wear Coastal Guardian Watchman (CGW) uniforms while out on patrol. It describes why CGW wear the uniforms, who can wear the uniforms and the responsibilities and conduct of those who are wearing the uniforms. 

Community resource

Uniform Policy - Coastal Guardian Watchman Network

Community resource

Flag Use Policy - Coastal Guardian Watchman Network

The 'Coastal Guardian Watchman Network Flag Use Policy' shared by the Coastal Stewardship Network is provided to Coastal Guardian Watchmen crews who display the flag on their boats or vehicles. It describes the purpose of the flag, who can use them and the responsibilities associated with displaying the flag.

Community resource

Flag Use Policy - Coastal Guardian Watchman Network

Section: How are information, education and outreach connected to compliance?

“Our goal is to educate people before confrontation happens in the field. We post signs with traditional territory boundaries and contact numbers. Our first goal is to ensure people understand our expectations around being in the territory.”

Bruce Maclean, Mikisew Cree First Nation
Quote

“Our goal is to educate people before confrontation happens in the field..."

We're here to inform people who come to our territory and to inspire a shift in how people view and use our lands.

Chantal Pronteau, Kitasoo Xai'Xais Guardian
Quote

We're here to inspire a shift ...

Story

Guardians Equipped with Easy-to-Use Guidebook on Environmental Laws

Indigenous Guardians on the west coast decided that they needed a quick and easy summary of the most important laws that visitors in their territory should be following. The information needed to clear and understandable. It also had to be accessible when guardians were out patrolling their lands and waters.  

Story

Guardians Equipped with Easy-to-Use Guidebook on Environmental Laws

Community resource

Environmental Law Clinic - Environmental Laws: A Field Guide for BC's Central and North Coast and Haida Gwaii

The 'Environmental Laws: A Field Guide for BC's Central and North Coast and Haida Gwaii' shared by the Environmental Law Clinic at UVic is a field guide to common environmental offences, including fishing, hunting and trapping, pollution, forest practices, cultural and archaeological sites, parks and protected areas, species at risk, and boating for coastal British Columbia.

Community resource

Environmental Law Clinic - Environmental Laws: A Field Guide for BC's Central and North Coast and Haida Gwaii

Section: Why follow strict observe, record and report procedures?

“Kaska Dena Guardians will be out monitoring high use areas, collecting information and handing out brochures with information on Kaska Dena, checking for signs of wildlife, and talking with hunters about culturally sensitive areas. They will be informing hunters about Kaska Dena Traditional Territory and encouraging respect of the environment in the hopes of alleviating potential land use conflicts with hunters. As well, the Guardians will report on any activities of wrong doing."

Quote

“Kaska Dena Guardians will be out monitoring high use areas, collecting..."

Community resource

Environmental Law Clinic - Environmental Laws: A Field Guide for BC's Central and North Coast and Haida Gwaii

Section: Where does authority and enforcement fit into your guardian program?

Info sheet

Inherent and Delegated Authority to Enforce Indigenous and/or Canadian Laws and Policies

Inherent and Delegated Authority

Inherent Authority to Enforce Indigenous Laws and Policies

For some Indigenous Guardian programs, a clear mandate has been established to articulate and enforce Indigenous laws and policies. If this is something that your community is considering, here are some questions to think about:

  • Which Indigenous laws and policies are you most interested in enforcing?  
  • Are those laws and policies clearly articulated and broadly understood by the people they apply to? If not, are you willing or able to have conversations about Indigenous law?
  • Will these laws and policies apply to members of your community and/or people from outside your community?
  • Can compliance with your Indigenous laws and policies be achieved through education and outreach?
  • Has a process for enforcing your Indigenous laws and policies been established and agreed upon?  
  • What will be the range of responses if your Indigenous law is not followed? How will a response be chosen?
  • What will you do if there is a conflict between your Indigenous laws and Canadian laws? Have you received legal advice to understand the options and implications?
  • Are procedures in place to support and protect the safety of your Indigenous Guardians if they find themselves in conflict or hostile situations?  

Delegated Authority to Enforce Canadian Laws and Policies

For some Indigenous Guardian programs, there is a desire to take specific actions to address issues of non-compliance with Canadian laws and policies. This can lead to enforcement activities such as issuing tickets, issuing fines, confiscation, warrants for arrest, etc. Under the Canadian legal system, however, Indigenous Guardians do not typically have the authority to conduct these types of activities.

There are exceptions where some aspects of enforcement authority related to Canadian laws have been delegated to Indigenous Guardians or representatives. For instance, the DFO Aboriginal Fisheries Guardian designation or through provincial agreements re: Indigenous Conservation Officers and Park Rangers and Wardens.

Info sheet

Inherent and Delegated Authority to Enforce Indigenous and/or Canadian Laws and Policies

“We have a position, regardless of what the provincial and federal laws are up there. We have our own position in terms of hunting on the coast. So if we see hunters, we ask them to leave.”

Doug Neasloss, Kitasoo Xai’xais Nation
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“We have a position, regardless of what the provincial and federal laws are..."

 “We want to be able to manage and take care of our own resources… Now with this new resurgence with the Guardian Watchmen Program, we are looking after the resources and starting to take care of what we used to.”

Robert Russ, Haida Fisheries Department
Quote

 “We want to be able to manage and take care of our own resources…"

Story

Educating Resource Users About Indigenous Laws

In some places, guardians are playing a role in ensuring that Indigenous laws related to lands and resources are understood and followed by visitors to their territory. Having pamphlets and information on Indigenous laws that guardians can hand out and share with visitors can be very helpful.  

Story

Educating Resource Users About Indigenous Laws

Community resource

Guardian Watchmen: Upholding Indigenous Laws to Protect Land and Sea

Community resource

Enhancing the Environmental Stewardship Authority of Indigenous Peoples - Coastal Stewardship Network

Section: What are the challenges of being involved in compliance or enforcement?

“You are not looking for confrontation in the backcountry but respectful interaction. If you have policies, you need to state them. You are not getting into a stand off. Be a good role model. Know the federal and provincial policies so that you know what information and evidence to collect to bring it to the authorities to get a conviction. Push policy change by documenting violations even in the absence of regulation or recognized legal authority.”

Bruce Maclean, Mikisew Cree First Nation
Quote

“You are not looking for confrontation in the backcountry but respectful interaction. If you have policies..."